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Have your say on how we can show we are 'COVID safe'

Written by: Graham Prestwich - 30th April 2021

Graham Prestwich is our Public and Patient Involvement Lead and is inviting members of the public to complete a survey on behalf of IT development company, Blockchain Reply, to canvas public views on the use of secure COVID credentials in public places.

If you would like to win the lottery the very first step you must take is to buy a ticket. And if you don’t win this time, you have to buy another next week to have any chance of being successful. The same principle applies to public involvement in health and care service development and delivery, you have to be present and you have to keep being there. The big advantage we have when it comes to patient and public involvement is that the more people who join in, the more likely we are to win and make a difference.

For the majority of people, technology has become central to much of our day to day activity, be that sharing our time with family and friends, shopping for groceries, and most recently the rapid change in access to health and care services. Sadly, many people are also excluded from these advantageous technologies for a variety of reasons. The more we tailor something to work for one group of people, the more likely we are to exclude others unless we adopt different approaches at the same time.

As the rapid switch to technology is the universally applied solution, we need to make sure that the inequalities in access to technology is not the reason for inequalities in outcomes of health and care. This has become a massive issue and highlights a need for more careful attention if we are to maximise the benefits to the diverse communities that comprise our society.

New technology is arriving almost every day, and along with that come concerns and worries around lack of accurate, reliable, and unbiased information and based on long standing experiences, resulting in lack of trust and confidence in such technology. The way forward has to be authentic and genuine public engagement and involvement.

COVID-19 has taught us many important lessons, one of which is that technology can be enormously valuable for the majority but it is a barrier for many others. The result is exacerbation of inequalities, and that is nothing to be proud of. COVID has also taught us that people make the most important health and care decisions themselves – isolation, getting vaccinated, social distancing are all citizen-controlled actions that make a decisive difference.

Now here comes the tricky bit, if becoming more positively engaged and involved in one’s own health and care is the solution, and technology is the way that solution is being delivered, we have the right goal but an imperfect approach. People wanting to do the right thing need help to be able to deliver the right thing.

When there is an opportunity to influence what happens by sharing views and ideas, participating and joining in is the greatest and most valuable contribution anyone can make, to miss out on the opportunity is to turn down a free lottery ticket and still expect to have a big win.

You only have to talk to your friends who have family in India or perhaps Turkey to realise that the global COVID problem is far from over, so we have to continue to make efforts to be confidently safe.

Now is your chance to make a big difference. We’re inviting the public to complete a short survey to encourage them to share their views as a potential future user of smart phone-based app to show we are ‘COVID safe’. The jargon term used is known as Digital Health Credentialing.

Please complete the survey and then share and make it available to as many people as possible and in return we will share the results with you through the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network website and send you a copy if you wish.

Make sure you have your say on how we as a nation can prove we are ‘COVID safe’ and help get the country back on its feet.